Kelton Apartments | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine, LA Conservancy

Kelton Apartments

Designed and built by Richard Neutra for his in-laws in 1941, the Kelton Apartments were designated a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1988. In 2022, the Conservancy secured a conservation easement on the property’s exterior affording added protection for this architecturally significant landmark.

The apartments embody a shift in Neutra’s design approach from earlier, more Eurocentric iterations of the International Style to a more relaxed, regionally responsive design. With a woodsier palette and a “breaking of the box” approach, the apartment building features extended terraces and roof overhangs that engage with mature foliage on the property.

Over an 11-year period, Neutra designed four apartment buildings in Westwood. These include the eight-unit Landfair Apartments (1937), the eight-unit Strathmore Apartments (1937), the three-unit Kelton Apartments (1941), and the five-unit Kievman Apartments (1948).

The Kelton Apartments have remained in the family since their completion more than eighty years ago. We are thankful for the Neutra family’s stewardship of the property and their commitment to its long-term preservation.

The Kelton Apartments were designed and built for Richard Neutra’s in-laws, who lived in the primary unit and rented out the two others. Completed in 1941, the property is one of four apartment buildings designed by Neutra in Westwood and breaks from his pure interpretations of International Style design. Using a woodsier pallet, the Kelton Apartments interacts with the natural environment in ways previous designs did not.

With broad bands of windows alternating with deep bands of white painted stucco, the facades retain character-defining features of the International Style. However, Kelton diverges from the style because it does not stand out as a white rectangular volume. Instead, the residence uses clever massing to create low-slung volumes that blend with the landscape and presents itself as a single-family residence from the street. At Kelton, the rooflines extend farther beyond the building’s walls, sheltering the multiple terraces and encouraging indoor-outdoor living.

The Kelton Apartments are an early example of what Neutra would later call biorealism. His design theory argued that architecture must connect to nature and embrace a range of sciences, including evolutionary biology, environmental psychology, Gestalt aesthetics, and anthropology, to understand human needs better. Through the lens of biorealism architecture would better respond to and meet those needs. In his books, beginning with Survival Through Design (1954), the architect presents strategies for re-integrating humans and nature through architecture. In many ways, the Kelton Apartments are a pioneering Neutra design that has successfully achieved the architect's goals for more than eight decades.

Rancho Los Amigos and power plant structure. Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Rancho Los Amigos

The former County Poor Farm, now abandoned, provides a rare glimpse into the early history of Los Angeles.